Saturday, December 02, 2006

Spotty physician counseling

Ouch, that hurts. The authors of this particular article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine do, however, have a point. They found that we physicians fail to communicate important points about medication use to our patients. This includes duration of use, possible side effects, and potential interactions with other drugs.

Shoot, guilty as charged. More than once I have discovered that a patient quit her new meds after the first prescription's worth, thinking a single month of therapy would take care of a chronic problem such as elevated cholesterol or hypertension.

Thank heavens for pharmacists who pay attention to the drugs you're on and possible conflicts between all those that you take. We are often called to clarify dose or drug name, or given a heads up that a drug we've prescribed may interact with therapy already underway (just last week because I added the antibiotic Zithramax for a patient already on Zocor).

I know my part: pay attention to the entire picture and take the extra time to explain. Your part as drug-using patient according to the authors of this article?

Ask questions about the medication name, dose, and purpose; how, when, and how long to take the medication; possible adverse effects and what to do if they arise; what food, drinks, other medicines, or activities should be avoided while taking the medication; and what should be done if a dose is missed.

And I would add that you should use one pharmacy for all your prescriptions. These well-trained pharmacists do pay attention to all your meds and do notify me when I've made a choice that may not fit with your health history.

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